Cambridge Audio - Azur 851C - CD Player, DAC, Digital Preamplifier

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by George P, Jul 9, 2018.

  1. George P

    George P Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    After first upgrading my speakers (B&W 704 S2), then cables (Nordost), then amplifier (Yamaha A-S801), all that was left is my CD player (Yamaha CD-S300.) I did some reading, spoke with some friends, called a few dealers, asked a ton of questions and arrived at the Cambridge Audio Azur 851C. I bought it from amazon, so I have 30 days to try it out and can return for a full refund within that time if I am not happy with it. (Though I am hoping to be very happy with it.)

    Who else has one of these? What do you think of it?

    Reviews:

    Cambridge Audio Azur 851C CD Player/DAC

    SoundStage! Xperience | SoundStageXperience.com - Cambridge Audio Azur 851C CD Player-DAC-Digital Preamplifier

    Cambridge Audio 851C Review - Audio Appraisal
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2018
  2. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    It’s a superb unit. Transport, internal DAC, build quality - everything is first rate. More important, the audio quality that it produces is wonderful. I think Cambridge has put an awful lot of skill and experience into the entire Azur 851 series. Personally, I think the 851C is a winner.
     
  3. George P

    George P Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Glad to hear that! Thanks.
     
  4. Mike McMann

    Mike McMann Forum Resident

    I don’t have that unit per se, mine is the universal Azur 752BD, but speaking for the Cambridge Audio name only, they make excellent products.
    The sound is what impresses me the most about their products.
    To me they produce a very analog or smooth sound.
    I’m jealous and can’t see it going back.
    Have a ball with it.
     
    Brother_Rael and George P like this.
  5. George P

    George P Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Thanks, Mike! :wave:
     
  6. fogalu

    fogalu Forum Resident

    Location:
    Killarney, Ireland
    It might be worthwhile checking out the CD player for a design fault which my son discovered when he bought a Cambridge Audio player a couple of years ago.

    The player inserts gaps between tunes that should segue seamlessly. (A good way to check it is to play the first two tracks on Sgt Pepper and listen for a gap between the opening track and "With a Little Help".) While this is unavoidable when playing MP3 files, it is totally unacceptable in Red Book CD playback.

    This fault may not be present in the machine described above but do check it out to eliminate the possibility. Some members of this forum have come across this problem (even on a high-end machine):

    Cambridge Audio CD10 and CD gaps
     
    bluemooze likes this.
  7. George P

    George P Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Thanks for the heads up!

    I read:

    GAPLESS PLAYBACK?
    Yes


    Here - Azur 851C

    ...so I think I am OK.
     
  8. fogalu

    fogalu Forum Resident

    Location:
    Killarney, Ireland
    Good! But do check it out with an actual CD if you have the machine on 30 days approval.
     
  9. George P

    George P Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Will do! :wave:
     
    fogalu likes this.
  10. LeeS

    LeeS Blue Note Fan

    Location:
    Atlanta
    Also check out the Teac players in this price range which I think offer good value for the money and they have robust transports.
     
    George P likes this.
  11. patient_ot

    patient_ot Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    I have an Azur integrated. Thought about getting a matching CD transport or CD player with it but decided not to after too many reports of reliability issues with the transports in both. I also didn't like that the ones I looked at didn't decode pre-emphasis...
     
  12. George P

    George P Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Oh, crap. I hadn't thought about pre-emphasis. Can anyone who has the 851C report if it decodes pre-emphasis or not?
     
    c-eling likes this.
  13. rednedtugent

    rednedtugent Forum Resident

    Location:
    Funk, Ohio
    Hmm. No SACD. Not a deal breaker but...
    I hope you report back on how you like it.
     
  14. Shiver

    Shiver Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    Haven't heard the 851 but had its predecessor - the 840C.

    Nice unit, but I do feel duty bound to say it wasn't the most reliable! It was ex-demo, though fine, so I got the extended five-year warranty (especially as it was pretty cheap at 10% of total cost). In the four years I had it it went back twice for the draw/CD-loading mechanism, and once for the display going iffy. I did see some similar issues online.

    Don't mean to put a damper on it and hopefully they've addressed things, but would say it's worth considering in terms warranty/returnability etc., especially if it's the same mechanism on the 851.
     
    Ken E. and George P like this.
  15. JoeSmo

    JoeSmo SL1200 lover....

    Location:
    Maidstone
    Had an Azure 851A in my system and found it to be incredible. Had to go 3 times the cash for an appreciable upgrade. A real audiophile bargain. Hope you really enjoy your player.
     
    George P likes this.
  16. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    The issue with gaps didn't affect the 851C. It did their Topaz line however and was totally unacceptable. Redbook is done and dusted as far at that's concerned. Your player should be fine.

    As for pre emphasis, I don't believe it does but that shouldn't be a deal breaker if you only have a handful of such discs.
     
    fogalu likes this.
  17. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    Location:
    South West, UK.
    If this was a few months ago I would have suggested an Oppo 205 for similar outlay providing your amp is black. Actually if I was in the OP's position I would buy the 851N streamer/DAC with a Cambridge CXC transport. Transport problem solved with extended warranty and failure does not affect anything else. So far my CXC is working fine. You cover all bases there except SACD and DVDA.
     
    c-eling likes this.
  18. George P

    George P Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Thanks to all for posting. Due to a few of the concerns posted, i have cancelled my order.

    I am now thinking i might get a Yamaha cds700 instead. That was my original plan.
     
    KT88 likes this.
  19. bruce2

    bruce2 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Connecticut, USA
    Have you considered the Onkyo Reference C-7000R, which is the same price as the Cambridge? The Onkyo is one heavy and well-built looking machine, I wish I could audition one.
     
    Brother_Rael likes this.
  20. bruce2

    bruce2 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Connecticut, USA
    Nope. CD only.
     
    George P likes this.
  21. George P

    George P Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango Thread Starter

    Location:
    NYC
    Found a local dealer who will sell me one of these for $100 under retail and has a good return policy. Will let me listen for 30 days and if I'm not happy return for a full refund. So I'm going to go with this one and see how it is. I can pick it up right after work.

    At the very least I will be able to report on the differences between the cds300 and the cds700 in the thread that I created a while back. There seems to be very little feedback on the cds700 and even less as to how it Compares with the cds300.
     
  22. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    Lack of PE detection and handling is still an issue. Oppo's can but only if the tag is located in the table of contents, for older models at least. Not sure if the 205 does it at all.
     
    George P likes this.
  23. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    Location:
    South West, UK.
    I've had no problem playing music files on a Windows PC. I don't think this is that relevant to Op's requirements.
     
  24. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    See post #12
    Not sure if George is set up for software handling of pre-emphasis
     
    George P likes this.
  25. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    Location:
    South West, UK.
    This model is about 1/3rd cost of Cambridge 851 in UK so I just can't see it being competitive on sound and build quality. Does it do preamp and streaming duties?
     

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